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Residents of the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington, Vt., are posting messages their own way.

Berkshires Beat: Nursing Home Residents Share Messages With Public

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All is well

As friends and neighbors take to social media to communicate, residents of the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington, Vt., are posting messages their own way. A sign out front of the facility shares the message, "All is well. We miss our community." 

Residents aim to update the message a few times a week. For the safety of patients and residents, all except medical visits have been excluded since earlier this month. Those who would like to message residents back can do so by using the hashtag #Love4CLR on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The messages will be shared with CLR residents.


Susan B. Anthony Grant

The Adams Suffrage Centennial Celebration Committee  has received a $10,000 grant from the Avangrid Foundation in partnership with Berkshire Gas Company. The grant supports the 2020 celebration of the 200th birthday of Susan B. Anthony, an Adams native, and the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.  

This celebration will include the installation of a statue honoring Susan B. Anthony and a three-day festival on August 21, 22 and 23 in Adams that will culminate in a parade and unveiling of the statute on August 23, 2020.

The Avangrid Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that funds philanthropic investments that primarily impact communities where AVANGRID, Inc. and its subsidiaries operate. Since 2002, the Avangrid Foundation and its predecessors have invested more than $21 million in partnerships that focus on building sustainable, vital and healthy communities; preserving cultural and artistic heritage; advancing education; and improving people’s lives.


Scholarships available

Greylock Federal Credit Union is accepting applications for Community Enrichment Scholarships for students who exemplify positive community spirit and demonstrate respect and concern for their peers in everything they do. Applications and essay requirements are posted online, under Get to Know Greylock. Applications are due by Friday, April 17.

Greylock will award up to two $500 scholarships to college-bound seniors at each public high school in Berkshire County. Applicants must be committed to attend a state-accredited or nationally-accredited two or four-year college/university at the time of award. For further information, send an email.


Subsidized farm shares

People who are interested in signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture program from a local farm but are concerned about the cost, take note: Hoosac Harvest is again working with several CSA farms this year to subsidize the cost of shares so that all members of the community have access to local farms and local food.

A limited number of shares are available from Wildstone Farm in Pownal, Vt.; Red Shirt Farm in Lanesborough, Mass.; Many Forks Farm in Clarksburg, Mass.; and Square Roots Farm in Cheshire, Mass.

To find out if you qualify for a lower cost (subsidized) share, contact Hoosac Harvest via email or 413-664-4006. Subsidized shares are based on income and reduce the full share cost by 40 to 60 percent. Payment plans and payment by EBT/SNAP are available.

Hoosac Harvest encourages community members to join a Community Supported Agriculture program, or CSA, for direct access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally. CSA members pay for an entire season of produce early in the year, which helps farmers plan for the growing season, purchase new seed, make equipment repairs, and more.  A CSA share typically costs between $500 to $675 for 20 weeks of produce between June and October. A full share is enough for two adults with one or two children, or two veggie lovers; partial shares are also available at some participating local farms.


Cultural Council grants

The Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire has announced grants to be awarded to a very wide array of projects and initiatives by artists and cultural organizations. In all, $63,792 will be awarded to those presenting cultural events and arts projects that will benefit residents of the council's funding communities, which include; Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg. Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough, Monroe, New Ashford, North Adams, Savoy and Williamstown.

This council receives the largest amount of applications statewide. Again this year there were 91 applications; after the evaluation process, the council is able to fund all or part of 78 projects that will occur during 2020. For a complete list of awards, visit the website.

The grants are part of the council’s annual grants program, which is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency that supports public programs and educational activities in the arts, interpretive sciences and humanities.

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SVMC Creates Virtual Waiting Room to Encourage Distancing

BENNINGTON, Vt. — Beginning June 1, many people who need in-person appointments at Southwestern Vermont Health Care's hospital and clinics will no longer need to use traditional waiting rooms. A virtual system created by the hospital allows patients to call 802-447-5000 when they arrive in the parking lot and receive a text message when their provider is ready to see them.

SVMC's outpatient and inpatient surgeries and diagnostic services, like those for imaging and laboratory work, have resumed with enhanced safety protocols per the directive of Gov. Phil Scott. The health system's emergency department, ExpressCare, emergency surgical services, and most of its primary and specialty practices remained open during the pandemic.

"SVHC has provided safe, high-quality care throughout the pandemic," said Dr. Thomas A. Dee, SVHC's president and CEO. "Innovation has been an important part of providing care during these extraordinary times and this new program decreases the number of people in our waiting rooms and allows them to stay the recommended 6 feet apart or more."

In order to use the virtual waiting room, patients must be able to wait in their vehicle and have a charged cell phone with them. They will receive the virtual waiting room telephone number during their appointment-reminder telephone call. Signs outside the building and at the respiratory check-in stations inside the main hospital and medical office building entrances will also include the number to call.

Patients simply call the number when they arrive in the parking lot and wait in their cars. When the provider is ready to see them, they will receive a text message alert to indicate that they should come in.

"We love that we can use the same technology that most people carry with them to help people stay socially distanced," said registered nurse Gail Balch, who directs information technology at SVMC. "It's through innovations like this one that we are able to resume services safely and ensure patients receive the care they need."

Hospital and clinic staff anticipate that the new program will allow greater distance between people who must use traditional waiting rooms, including those who walked or took public transportation to their appointment and those who do not have a cell phone.

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